coming out of the closet

First I read the report about the lack of WMDs in Iraq. I thought, "Maybe now we can admit that we were wrong about the WMDs and potentially gain some respect back from the rest of the world, let alone our own citizens that wonder why we keep sending National Guard units over." But, true to usual form, we instead tell the world that, in fact, the original justification for war wasn't REALLY the justification. The REAL justification was something much more "humanitarian"--to get rid of a bad man. Unfortunately, that was not the justification that Congress and the American people were given to justify our desperate need to go to war when we did. To quote the USA Today article: "'In short, we invaded a country, thousands of people have died, and Iraq never posed a grave or growing danger,' said Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va." I can't figure it out. I'm sure that Bush is not a bad person. I'm sure that he really wants to right all of the wrongs that our country has fallen into morally. I believe that he is a Christian in the sense of someone that has been "born again." And that he believes he is telling the truth. I disagree with Michael Moore that everything that comes out of Bush's mouth is a deliberate deception. But the only reason I now have to believe that--that he is good and a Christian and has everyone's best interest in mind--is the word of Bush and Cheney and the other members of the administration. And we now know that, even if it wasn't a boldfaced lie, that there was a tacit assumption after 9/11/01 that one way or another the US was going to topple Iraq and install a government that was more to our liking if not our explicit control. This is nation-building through aggressive military action (versus diplomacy, sanctions, defensive military action, etc.). This blatant manipulation of facts to fit a preconceived cause may not be a lie, but it's darn close. So if I can no longer believe our President when he gives (or one of his spokespersons give) reasons for going to war--one of the most potentially catastrophic acts a President can unleash--how can I believe him when he proclaims to share a version of my faith? Many Christians I know are still in support of Bush because of his anti-abortion stance, his anti-stem cell research stance, his plans to trim the fat from public assistance programs, lower taxes, explore Mars, African debt relief promises, and his ability to "make us safe from terrorists." I have been persuaded by those issues for a while now and would not come out in support of Kerry for that reason. But now that we're within one month of the election, I feel like I have to take a stand one way or another. This doesn't mean that I have to vote for one candidate or another--I don't feel like national-level politics are the primary concern of the Christian. I simply can no longer stomach Christians who conflate conservative nationalism and their faith by elevating every promise, press release, address, retort, or one-liner of our President as some sort of unquestionable truth. Let's look at the current state of our government: the President is conservative, his advisors are conservative, the Senate and House of Representatives are Republican (albeit by a narrow margin), and the US Supreme Court is 5 to 4 Republican-appointed, conservative senior citizens. If Roe v. Wade was going to be overturned, or the Marriage Amendment proposed, the last two years were the best time for that to happen in decades. If federal legislation making the nation a more moral place through prayer in schools, censorship on movies or TV shows, etc., the past two to four years were the best political environment in which to do so. We have to face facts: the overwhelming agenda for the present Congress and Presidential Administration has been an economic, not a moral one: how to release federal constraints on corporations and the wealthiest 2% of the population while at the same time expecting better results with less funding for "irresponsible" and/or mismanaged schools, welfare agencies, small farms, hospitals, public/state universities, and single mothers. The United States is not going to improve morally with Bush and a conservative Congress, and Supreme Court at the helm. Yes, we may have lower taxes, but our jobs are going to be outsourced to countries where labor is cheaper and therefore companies' costs are lower--not so that savings is passed on to the consumer in a Reaganomics sort of way--but so that those who already have can have more. Yes we may have a larger standing army, but those troops are going to have less to come back to in their small towns and inner cities across the country when they are done serving--and they won't make us more "secure" from terror within our own borders while they are on the other side of the globe. Yes we are going to have more tests for schools but they will be instated to the detriment of the teachers and students that have no option but to "teach/learn to the test." And--if you haven't figured it out before--a political platform that prides itself on "states's rights" the way that the Republicans do will not, despite their talk, put together a bill or Constitutional Amendment that will define marriage from a federal legal standpoint. Similarly, an administration that has the best interests of companies, especially multi-national conglomerates, in mind will not "drop the debt" in Africa in any effective way (the US only has Congressional approval on $500 million in debt-relief anyway--not the whole amount asked of the US). In other words, my Christian brothers and sisters, if you're looking to this President and this Congress and this Supreme Court to improve our country morally, you're looking in the wrong place. If you're looking to make our country more compassionate toward those who don't have the huge material blessings we've been blessed with, you're not going to get that either. If, however, you're hoping to have lower gasoline prices instead of more fuel-efficient cars, more tests instead of better educated kids, more "security" instead of a greater degree of civil rights, more consumer goods produced at a lower cost to the manufacturer instead of more unionized blue and white collar labor inside of the US, more moralizing about homosexuality without equal conviction over our idolic materialism, more assurances of good intentions without the actual impact of those good intentions, and more rhetoric about how we don't need justification for our actions from the world community while we still send our own soldiers out into that now much more hostile or at least unsympathetic world to get shot at and killed for reasons that turn out to be misinformed at best, outright lies at worst--then by all means, continue to vote Republican. I don't want to fight, but can someone convince me to (a) Vote and (b) Vote for Bush? I want to be persuaded so, by all means, persuade.... [We need a real third party. Jeff, will you run?]


Blogger yomama said...

i'm with you (although i don't need convinced to participate in voting)...

i think i prefer the vast majority of kerry's policy over gwb (with the exception of abortion).

however, i am voting (at least today- i plan on voting)for gwb.

i recently learned that johnkerry has voted againest all legistlation to ban partial borth abortion. the ban was passed without his vote.

but- i think his voting record on this issue speaks to a new low in charecter for a politician.

essentially, he thinks that it is not important for him to stand in the way of women who labors to deliver a baby half way out of the birth canal and puncture the baby's head to kill it.

i want to have someone that has some ounce of charecter in the whitehouse. and although i don't know if gwb has much (by the way he treats our allies, our enemies and our poor); i think john kerry looses to him in this most basic catergory (that i've deemed most important to me).

shamless plug for you to visit my blog. it's in your neighboorhood- down the street and take a right. :)

there's been some hell raising the last two weeks. anabaptist view of voting has been discussed as well.

10/08/2004 7:56 AM  
Blogger e said...

maureen--thanks for commenting. i've added you to the blog roll. sorry for not doing that before.

Mike and Andy brought up good points on your blog. Let me reiterate and add to them here:
1. Abortion of all kinds is wrong. What makes partial birth abortion wronger than other kinds? It is more gruesome, perhaps, but what about the gruesomeness makes it worse? ALL abortion = infanticide. I think the majority of people that see that fetus as a human and not as a tissue blob would agree with that. Whether it is one day after conception or one minute from being born, I think we can all agree it's still ending a potential and to a certain extent an already existing life. The issue for most pro-abortion people is whether it is right or wrong for a government to tell you that you can't kill something that's inside of you. I think it should be able to stop you from killing your baby at week 1 or week 40. But the means of the abortion--the fact that chemicals are used vs. a cranial vacuum cleaner, for instance, do not make the act better.

2. If we (at least you and me and many Christians) can agree that abortion of all kinds is wrong, then should we not also agree that our government should do something about this? I think you are saying, "yes--therefore elect Bush." But I am saying "yes--and Bush will not do anything about it either." Therefore, we have to look at other issues: abortion is one where the two candidates do not differ substantially. Sure their RHETORIC differs--Bush has said that abortion is wrong, Kerry that it's none of the government's business--but at the bottom line, meaning the doing something about it line, neither has shown himself worthy.

3. Like I said before: if Roe v. Wade was going to be overturned, it would be overturned when there was a conservative President, conservative Congress, and conservative Supreme Court. All those things currently exist. But so does Roe v. Wade. The reason it is still in place is that no President is going to attempt to overturn it as long as the majority of the voting public is ambivalent about the issue. In fact, both the President AND his party have softened their stance on abortion. There are increasing numbers of PRO-CHOICE Republicans in Congress and cabinet positions.

4. Bush himself stated several times that he would NOT make a Supreme Court appointment based on pro-life leanings. ( The quote of Bush's that most clearly states his position is: "The voters will know I’ll put competent judges on the bench, people who will strictly interpret the Constitution and will not use the bench to write social policy." ) He is, in fact, a Constitutional conservative--meaning that he wants the Constitution to be interpreted with states' rights in mind. He will not follow through on any non-economic or defense policy (the marriage amendment included) that takes away states' rights in order to bolster federal powers. His record on this issue is pretty much crystal clear DESPITE his speeches to the contrary. He may SAY that he is morally conservative as well--and he probably is--but that doesn't change the way he runs the military, the economy, or interprets the Constitution.

So, to summarize, a vote for Bush is NOT going to end abortion. And it is NOT going to make the United States a more morally sound or Biblically based country. You can listen to what a President says or you can look at what he actually does and neglects to do. The former often seems to be a smoke-screen for the latter. And that is why I can't vote--or at least can't vote for Bush.

10/08/2004 11:46 AM  
Blogger e said...

For more info about Bush and abortion:

I agree that his stance seems to be morally superior--if we only look at his "inspirational" speeches. If we look at his record--evident in the "Supreme Court + Constitution" area on that website--you'll see that he's not going to actually DO anything about his. He can talk all he wants about his personal values. I need to know that his money is where his mouth is. He's had 4 years to dazzle us with his moral rectitude but hasn't.

Oh, and the partial birth abortion act came about while Clinton was President, so Bush can't even take credit for that....

10/08/2004 11:53 AM  
Blogger yomama said...

hi eric,
questions on your post:
"It is more gruesome, perhaps, but what about the gruesomeness makes it worse? ALL abortion = infanticide. I think the majority of people that see that fetus as a human and not as a tissue blob would agree with that..."

i agree that all abortion is infanticide.

but i think your post points out what i'm trying to get at:

> kerry does NOT believe that an unborn baby is a person worth protecting- he believes it is a 'tissue blob'.
> however, he voted for protection of an unborn child act (like lacey peterson's baby).

so he does believe at some point the blob becomes a person inutero (sp?).

but yet- he will not vote to protect that baby?

seems incongruent at best (and more objectively)

and down right bad at worse (for us that think charecter and life count).

do you follow?

10/08/2004 12:13 PM  
Blogger yomama said...

"Oh, and the partial birth abortion act came about while Clinton was President, so Bush can't even take credit for that...."

not looking to credit bush.
looking to blame kerry for standing in the way
drawing conlcusions based on his repeated actions/ votes.

10/08/2004 12:14 PM  
Blogger mg said...

your post was very well written and summed up what i've been feeling lately for the most part.

i can't persuade you to vote
and i really can't persuade you to vote for bush. i, like you tried to believe him and believe in him, but came to the conclusion that he is not all he claims to be.

perhaps the only persuasion to vote would be to vote for kerry if you really don't like bush. that way you can somewhat ensure that your vote will be taken into consideration as a vote against him at the very least...

unfortunately there are no easy answers.

10/08/2004 4:23 PM  
Blogger nikkip said...

you made the most convincing kerry argument that i've yet heard. for months, i've been going back and forth, not wanting to vote for either of the options--but knew i had to vote, especially considering what happened in that last election. and now, for the first time, i feel really clear! if you summed it up for me, why is it so difficult for that to sum it up for yourself? it seems you've already answered your own questions...so just get to it--VOTE!

10/08/2004 9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last night I was visiting with friends who are heavily involved in the SCA (Society for Creative Anacronism, in which they spend a lot of time dressing up in medieval clothing and pretending to be someone from the 1400's) and they were complaining and complaining about their current "king" who they say is a self absorbed idiot. The thing about the self absorbed idiot king is that no-one can get rid of him until the next tournament where there will be violent combat to choose the next "king," who will rule their make-believe land because he can physically beat the crap out of any other contender.

It made me think ... what if we lived under that kind of govornment in our REAL lives? I was feeling mightily priveledged to have the chance to vote.

And then, after reading this entry, I thought about how, at least in our form of govornment, the person in charge is somewhat accountable to all of us. It has just occurred to me that I should vote because when I do it makes the president (whomever it is) a better president. I'm not particularly fond of our current one or the decisions he's made and not made, but now I'm wondering ... what kind of decisions would he have made or not made if he didn't have this election coming up? Did the fact that I was going to vote have some tiny little impact on how far his decisions went? I'm thinking ... yes. And, that's why I think I should vote.

And that's why I think you should vote. I've been lurking on your blog and reading it for a while, and I'd rather have people like you and those who comment here, people who think so carefully about things, who care so much about people, who struggle honestly and are willing to share it, you people, I think all of you should vote vote vote! No matter which side wins, we'll have a president who does better for it. And no matter how much our options stink, I praise God that I get to vote instead of living indefinitely under the rule of some self-absorbed, idiot king who has no sense of accountability to the people he rules.

That's why I think you should vote.

10/09/2004 8:48 AM  
Blogger Jeff Cannell said...

Dude, why would I run- I found out a better revolution to join!
(See Willards Renovation of the Heart page 14)

(perhaps you were referring to Jeff Foxworthy.)

It seems people might take your post to mean "vote for Kerry." I didn't quite get that- Am I skimming too much?

Complex issues indeed.

10/09/2004 4:22 PM  
Blogger Jeff Cannell said...

oops rather "I ofund a better revolution"

sloppy blogger- bad bad!

10/09/2004 9:04 PM  
Blogger Seth said...

Great post E.

For me, you expressed very intelligently and conherently the frustration I have. I guess I'm left leaning, but intensely pro-life at the same time. Looks like I don't have a home anywhere, politically. :)

All of this has been a big learning experience for me, so it's been fun...

But at the same time, there are real consequences for our decision. It's not all fun and games. :)

Thanks E! :)

10/11/2004 3:54 PM  
Blogger e said...

thank you for commenting, all you lurkers :-) keep those opinions coming.

i think i understand everyone's convictions so far. i resonate with what Jeff said too--ultimately, my allegiance is not to this, or any, earthly nation/kingdom, so why fret over voting at all?

so...is there reason to vote if we know that we dislike both alternatives? i know that in a "democracy" it is irresponsible to not vote, but with whom should we cast our ballot if we think one of the candidates is a liar and the other representing moral positions we disagree with?

i wish there was a third party that represented both a concern for the poor/marginalized AND morally moderate to conservative values. But that person would never get elected because not even Christians can make up their minds about what we should stand for.

so, to sum up :-) thank you for helping me feel okay about not voting Republican. but i'm still not convinced i should vote democrat--or anything else for that matter. yet i still feel like voting in and of itself is not an "un-Christian" act (as some of my anabaptist friends might argue).

what now?

10/12/2004 11:14 AM  
Blogger Andy Whitman said...

Erik, just another quick comment from a lurker.

I do think there's a precedent for not voting. I'm not suggesting that's what you should or should not do, only that I think it can be a viable option if the circumstances present themselves.

Political theorist Hannah Arendt, whose works I admire, once wrote that a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil. I believe that. I also believe that, in a fallen world, in a political system such as ours that is focused on money, power, and maintaining the status quo, any vote for president is automatically a vote for the lesser of two evils.

But I do think it's possible to reach the point, in such a system, where a vote for either candidate is unconscionable. When you look at both candidates and your honest reaction is "God, please, no," then you've probably reached that point.

I've voted in every presidential election since 1976. Each time I've voted for the lesser of two evils. But I think I may be reaching the point, in the upcoming election, where I am so disheartened and so morally opposed to both candidates, that I may not vote, because a vote for president is still a vote *for* someone, and I'm not sure that I want to align myself, in any way, with either one. Hitler vs. Stalin. Who do you vote for? That's an extreme and probably somewhat ludicrous example, but I think that I can truly say that I do not want George W. Bush to be re-elected, and that I truly do not want John Kerry to take his place. In this case, the lesser of two evils may still be too much evil.

Just a thought. I certainly appreciate your struggle, and I've appreciated reading your thoughts.

10/12/2004 3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Voting vs Not Voting


Voting for an unsatisfying candidate vs Not voting

Hmmmm....a tricky situation!

It seems to me that the first situation (voting/not voting) is the easier to solve. Several hundred years ago some crazy, brave, foolhardy, visonary, dreamers decided to declare war on the most powerful nation on Earth. Well they didn't declare war they just 'insulted' that nation in a way that would end in a war. The really interesting thing is that these men did not know if their fellow-countrymen wouldsupport them or just hangem from the nearest tree. They believed in something enough to take that risk.

Now what has this to do with voting? Well that declaration should be acknowledged by every American by their vote. It seems that your ancestors have earned you that right AND so you should honor it with using it.

However, the second situation now rears its ugly head. What if both candidates, for the lack of a better word, 'suck'? Now you are in a crux. Do I vote for a candidate I do not respect? Well not voting does convey the message that there was dissatisfaction with both candidates. Problem is that last time I looked most western countries are struggling to get a significant percentage of the voting population to vote. Result: this message gets lost!

This is very much a personal choice: voting for Bush, Kerry, or not voting. Both candidates are passionate about their Country....hence running for a position that will rarely see them in a great light and bestows on them marriage pressures and white hair. But my question to all you Bloggers who are not 'happy' with the choices is: Have you complained to your congressman, senator, political party? We complain on-line, in coffee shops, Bible homegroups, bars, pubs, resturants, but are our voices being heard by the right people?

I tell my students that they need to have an informed opinion. Once they have studied the situation to ask/communicate with the source that is most helpful/useful at enacting change. This is the way they can make things happen. If a Nation of people are informed and then take their concerns to the source surely the source will be affected by those voices?!

Anyway I just thought a wrench in the works might stir up some more insights from the mighty paintball master... E!

Have a super weekend!

10/16/2004 8:20 AM  
Blogger e said...

wow, i even got a comment from grand funk master UK himself....
good point.
i'll vote.
but i might just vote for the things that are locally important, issues and the like.
naw...just kidding. after that third debate where GWB might as well have stuck his six shooters in the air and fired off a couple of rounds, i'm giving in to my bleeding heart.
the iraq war sucks. the economy sucks. "no child left behind" sucks. osu football sucks. and the fact that most americans won't even vote for the man who looks more competent--quoting facts and figures on stage rather than delivering one-liners...that sucks too.
vote quinby.

10/17/2004 12:23 AM  

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